With Father’s Day soon to be upon us, it’s a great time for each of us to be thankful for everything our good old Dad did for us. As I reflect upon this, there is much I can be thankful for. While most of this is not money-related, there has been quite a bit of good financial advice from Dad that I do remember. And yes, I’m glad I got this priceless advice.
Thinking through a lot of the things I recall him saying, some lessons in particular jump out at me. Here are some that resonated with me, that I’ll share.
Financial Lessons from Dad
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
It’s a time-honored saying from fathers to kids. In my home when growing up, it basically meant that money isn’t something to be taken for granted, so spend it wisely. A related lesson is that one must work for money, and usually this means hard work. So, don’t spend frivolously!
Make Your Savings Automatic
You know, he gave me this advice a long time ago, and I’m not 100% sure how this was done back then. Today, we can set aside money pre-tax and build up our 401(k) accounts. The main idea here was that we should set the money aside so we don’t spend it. If it’s not there, it can’t be spent! It was also a suggestion to him on money in marriage, that if it’s saved up front, there is less money to overspend.
Education is Critical
This was very beneficial advice that I’m glad I followed. Going to college was a given; there was never a ridiculous debate on whether or not college is right for me. It was an absolute requirement. I believe this to be excellent advice that applies even more so today, though in this environment people need to be more careful than ever to focus on ROI while avoiding student loan debt. Nonetheless, going to graduate school was a very helpful move for me, and again this was based on the mindset toward education instilled by him.
Buy a Home and Stay in it Long-Term
Excellent advice, in my view. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow this, as I’ve had a few moves. As I’ve found out, there are transaction and other costs to moving. For my parents, it worked out that they lived in the same home for over 30 years before finally moving and downsizing. When younger, I thought being mobile was the way to go, and staying in one place for many years was outdated. I now see it his way, and realize I was wrong.
Nobody Cares More About Your Finances That You Do
Another way to say it is that the person who has your back is you. When it comes to our money, it’s up to us to look out for our best interests. Those close to us will care about us and want us to do well, but the majority of people out there don’t really care. Actually, most of the world is trying to make money for themselves and their own families. Many of these people would love to separate your money from you, in order to make their own lives better. Thus, it’s vital to take responsibility for your own finances, and be vigilant and aware.
Big Hat, No Cattle
He seems to like this saying, though I recall him saying it more some years back. What this means is that there are plenty of people out there who act like they have a lot of financial success, and spend money to make this look real even if it’s not. They just have this strong desire to look successful and prosperous, even though they are not super successful and just making ends meet. It can be easy to worry about what they’re buying, and then try to compete. However, spending money to do so is foolish, and we should just focus on our own needs instead.
Life is Short, So Enjoy It
The idea here is that we need to enjoy every day as much as we can. Even if we’re working hard, we can still take the time to find some pure enjoyment in something each day. This might involve spending money, and that’s okay! As long as we’re responsible, we can live in the moment from time to time. My father was willing to spend on family vacations for us, as an example, and there are great memories from those times that I’ll always carry with me and treasure.
As a father myself, I can only hope that I’m imparting some wisdom on my kids that will be absorbed and fondly remembered years later!
My Questions for You
Do you remember any financial lessons from your father? If so, please feel free to share.
What resonated the most? Did you apply any of the advice?
What advice would you give to younger people today?